Minnesota Fringe Festival: STANDING ON CEREMONY: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Ritz Proscenium

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SHOW TITLE: STANDING ON CEREMONY: The Gay Marriage Plays

PRODUCER: The Ensemble Theatre Company

HAILING FROM: Minneapolis

SHOW DESCRIPTION: Join us as we explore the practicalities of gay marriage through four weddings, one funeral, and one nervous breakdown as six couples discuss family, sex, politics, and religion before saying “I do.”

I’ll confess my prejudice up front – I was dismayed to realize that this script was yet another New York import, as opposed to something with a more local bent.

This is an anthology of six plays, the vast bulk of which are – very, very light. Which was also disappointing, as someone hoping for something with a bit more meat to it.

But that, I suspect, is the point – the very fact that these are generally light, comic, sitcom-y sketches. If there’s an underlying, unifying viewpoint to these, it’s the observation that straight couples and gay couples are virtually indistinguishable in terms of their various relationship anxieties and neuroses. Which is a worthy observation, but I question whether it can sustain an hour.

There were two outliers, both monologues. One was comic, a finely acted speech by a traditional Christian woman that I found to be frustratingly toothless as satire. The other was truly beautiful: a monologue by an older man, eulogizing his partner at his funeral. Of all of the stories, this is the one that contextualized the struggles that these couples have faced over the course of decades, and even had a number of deft literary touches. I was moved.

Otherwise – everything is competently written, competently acted. I just didn’t find that there was all that much there.

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

phillip andrew bennett low is a Chinese-American playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theatre critic and libertarian activist. His performances have won acclaim from Minneapolis to Chicago, DC to LA — even as far as Melbourne, Australia. He is the co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers and was founder and producer of the touring theatre troupe Maximum Verbosity. He has published a book of political humor, Indecision Now! A Libertarian Rage, and will be presenting his own show in the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival, The Secret Book of Jesus.

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